2 Sep 2009

Anger at Bristol Tory Leader's outburst re project to tackle homophobic bullying

First I wanted to mention that I finally got around to seeing Milk last week - a great film that reminds us of Harvey Milk - a sort of Martin Luther King of LGBT - People told him no openly gay man could win political office. Fortunately, he ignored them - anyway it is well worth getting out on DVD....but let's get to this blog and why we still need to campaign on social justice....

Photos: Milk and below the recent Glos pride in The Citizen.

Greens have been surprised and angered by an attack by conservative city councilor leader on a Bristol-based project to provide support for a five year project across the Bristol, Bath, South Glos and beyond to support young members of the LGBT community who suffer from homophobic bullying (See Evening Post article here).

A National Lottery Grant of £391,668, has been awarded to Reach who have been set up by charity 'Educational Action Challenging Homophobia' for a 5 year project. However Cllr Richard Eddy has claimed the award as a waste of money.

Here is my comment to the press: "The reality is that homophobic bulling continues in many of our schools. We must not underestimate the impact such bullying can have on children. There are numerous cases where disrupted education has led to unfulfilled academic potential and worse where victims have been driven to despair with lasting consequences for their health. Funding for this five year project across the whole Bristol, Bath, South Glos area will be of enormous value in helping to challenge such prejudice and much more. I am very surprised and indeed angered that Cllr Eddy should choose to make such an extraordinary outburst claiming this is an 'outrageous' waste of money rather than giving it a warm welcome. This should have been a chance to celebrate a project that will help to build community cohesion and combat ignorance."

Ryan Cleminson, South West Green Parties spokesperson for LGBT issues, who has spoken to Each's executive director, Jonathan Charlesworth, said: "The comments by Councillor Eddy in the Evening post have caused such a storm that a Facebook group has already been started. It seems the Tories in Bristol still have a long way to go before everyone is valued as equal human beings. I can't think this outburst will do Cllr Eddy any favours."

Ryan also criticised the Evening Post saying: "Equally disappointing is the attitude of the Bristol Evening Post, which seems to be openly supporting the conservative councillor who made these misguided and homophobic comments."

Bristol Green Party's press officer Peter Goodwin also commented saying: "Once again we're seeing Richard Eddy picking on minority groups for the sake of a cheap headline, willingly provided by the Evening Post. If the local Tories have any ambition to be seen as decent and tolerant, it's high time they found a new leader."

See the Facebook group; http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=123781553250

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